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Nashville-based study: 2 out of 3 young people leave church before college

MADISON, Tenn. -- Two out of three young people stop going to church after leaving their parents’ house and head-off for college. The tops reasons are revealed in a new Nashville based study.

Most of the people we talked to say churches have to be relevant to them, or they won't go. A couple of pastors we spoke to say it’s making an economic impact on some churches.

Pastor Sandy McClain has been making a lot of changes at Mt. Calvary Madison church. He says churches in general need to meet young people’s needs.

"We have to do a better job, at bringing a God that seems so far away, and just making God more relevant," says Pastor McClain.

He says young people are craving God, but many aren't finding what they are looking for in a church.

Kate Adams, from Missouri says, "Some of it is just personal preference, some just feel like they don't have to do that in order for their faith in order to grow."

A new study done by LifeWay details the reasons why young people are leaving church. Some young people believe church members seem judgmental. Others don't feel connected to people in the church.

And a few said they disagreed with the church's stances on politics.

However, we found quite a few still going, mostly to more contemporary services. "It's not the same songs being sung, or the same phrase," says one young woman. "And you can just relate to it more."

Another young woman says, "There are a lot of young adults at the church we go to."

"I notice that the young people have a hunger that I haven't seen in years, they have a hunger and a desire. Because, they face so much pressure that we never did when we were younger, so they are looking for a god that they can understand," says Pastor McClain.

This shift is hurting some churches in another way, Pastor McClain says fewer people in general are giving back.

"It's actually devastating,” says McClain. "Now people are giving to organizations than their local church, because they see them meeting needs and making impacts on everyday lives."

He believes churches of all denominations need to come together to meet the needs of the entire community.

Pastor McClain says there is also a correlation between young people going to church and crime rates.

He says when they have any type of support system, or a believe system, they tend to commit less crimes.

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